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Is someone letting animals out at the Dallas Zoo?

DALLAS (NewsNation) — It sounds crazy, but some think there may be a saboteur at the Dallas Zoo.

Police investigating how a clouded leopard escaped her enclosure at the zoo Friday determined that a cutting tool was used to intentionally make an opening in the cat’s habitat fence. Investigators also discovered a second, similar cut at the habitat for small monkeys.

Tim Harrison, a former exotic pet specialist, told NewsNation’s Leland Vittert these types of potential crimes can sometimes point to a handful of potential culprits.

This undated image provided by the Dallas Zoo, a clouded leopard named Nova rests on a tree limb in an enclosure at the Dallas Zoo. Nova, a missing clouded leopard, shut down the Dallas Zoo on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, as police helped search for the animal that officials described as not dangerous and likely hiding somewhere on the zoo grounds. (Dallas Zoo via AP)

“ALF, the Animal Liberation Front, will sometimes come in and do these things as you know, terrorists; we call them basically eco-terrorists,” Harrison said.

On its website, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says the two groups have “very different approaches” but does “not condemn (ALF) for carrying out illegal actions in which no sentient being is harmed.”

ALF recently took credit for a mass release of more than 10,000 minks from a farm in Van Wert County, Ohio in December.

“Last month, at least 10,000 mink were liberated from this hell of humanity’s making by the Animal Liberation Front. This is what illegal direct action achieves — closing in one night what years of opposition could not. No longer will thousands of wild animals be held captive, then murdered in the cruel fur trade at this location,” ALF’s statement, obtained by The Times Bulletin, read in part.

Police were called to the Dallas Zoo on Friday when zoo employees discovered Nova, a clouded leopard, was missing from her habitat.

After a daylong search of the 100-acre zoo, Nova was discovered by late afternoon near her habitat. The Dallas Zoo told NewsNation that they discovered Nova after a rogue, vocal squirrel tipped them off to an area to focus their search.

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